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flag  History of Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Journey back in time to Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

(Valley Falls) (Ashton) (Cumberland Hill)

Visit Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

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Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA - Citizens Bank note

Nine Men's Misery monument in Cumberland is the oldest known monument to veterans in the United States. It was erected in memory of the colonists killed in Pierce's Fight during King Phillips War in 1676.

Cumberlandite is the official state rock. It is dark brown or black with white markings and found on both sides of Narragansett Bay but not north of Cumberland.


There is MUCH more to discover about Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA. Read on!

Cumberland Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

Citizens Bank note
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Citizens Bank note
Valley Falls Depot, 1883
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Valley Falls Depot, 1883
Church and School at Chapel Four Corners, Cumberland, R.I.
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Church and School at Chapel Four Corners, Cumberland, R.I.
Diamond Hill Train Station
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Diamond Hill Train Station
Cumberland High School, Valley Falls, R.I.
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Cumberland High School, Valley Falls, R.I.
Cumberland Mills Depot, 1907
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Cumberland Mills Depot, 1907
Diamond Hill Reservoir Gate House
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Diamond Hill Reservoir Gate House
Broad Street Bridge
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Broad Street Bridge
Lonsdale Company
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Lonsdale Company
Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, Mt. St. Rita, Cumberland, Rhode Island
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, Mt. St. Rita, Cumberland, Rhode Island
1955 - Flames Destroy Mill
Alton Evening Telegraph
Alton, Illinois
September 13, 1955
Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA
1955 - Flames Destroy Mill
Alton Evening Telegraph
Alton, Illinois
September 13, 1955

Discover Cumberland: History, News, Travel, and Stories

Add informationAdd History/News/Story
1777 - First Nail
The first cut nail in the world was made in 1777 by Jeremiah Wilkinson, of Cumberland, R.I.
St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
June 19, 1869
1809 - Earth Trembling
May 16.
In Cumberland, R.I., near Attleborough, an extraordinary trembling of earth has been repeatedly noticed of late; sometimes so hard as to break crockery ware. Several persons have removed. It appears to be local.

The Maryland Gazette
Annapolis, Maryland
May 24, 1809
1819 - Cumberland
Cumberland, a post township, is situated in the northeast corner of the State, about eight miles northeast from Providence; bounded east on Attleborough and Wrentham in Massachusetts, north on Wrentham, Bellingham & Mendon, in Massachusetts, southwesterly on Pawtucket river, which separates it from Smithfield. It is of a very irregular figure, and was formerly called the Gore. It comprises an area of about 28 square miles.

There are some sections of the township that are level and favourable for tillage; but a considerable proportion of it is rough and broken, being hilly and rocky, and is reserved for forests and pasturage. It is estimated that there are about 5000 acres in the town, covered with forests. In the other sections, the soil is generally fertile, and affords the various productions common to this region. The cultivation of grain does not receive much attention. Hay, cider and fruit are the principal articles that are sent abroad for a market.

The waters of the town...

1839 - Cumberland
Cumberland, Rhode Island
Providence county. The manufacture of cotton and boat building is extensively pursued in this town. Pawtucket, Mill and Peter's rivers, and Abbot's run, afford the town a good hydraulic power. There is some good land in Cumberland, producing a variety of articles for Providence market, from which it is distant 8 miles N. Population, 1830, 3,675. See Smithfield.
The New England Gazetteer containing descriptions of all the states, counties and towns in New England: also descriptions of the principal mountains, rivers lakes, capes, bays, harbors, islands and fashionable resorts within that territory. By John Hayward, author of the Columbian Traveller, Religious Creeds, &c. &c. Boston: John Hayward. Boyd & White, Concord, N.H. 1839
A rich Copper Mine has been opened at Cumberland, R. I. - Within the last week fifteen tons of ore have been shipped for Boston, from the mine, commenced this season, and worked by four men only. The ore was sent to Liverpool to be sold at the monthly mart of ore at Swansea. There is not a single furnace for copper in North America. The ore, from Chili, the grey oxide, which is the richest in the world, yielding 80 per cent, is sent exclusively to Swansea. The Boston American says that an analysis of the ore from Cumberland, gave for the richest specimens, 57 per cent, for the poorest, 5 per cent. The average about 13 per cent. The best Cornwall mines give an average of only ten per cent. The Strafford mines in Vermont, which were worked some years with profit, until the vein ran out, gave an average of five per cent.
The Evening Post
New York, New York
October 25, 1842
Disagreeable necessity obliges us to shock the sensibilities of our readers, by the recital of another horrible calamity from a collision of Railway trains.

At 8 o'clock, yesterday morning, a collision occurred on the Providence and Worcester Railroad, which caused the death of fourteen persons, and seriously injured about forty more. The collision occurred between the regular up train and the excursion train from Weeting's. The latter was out of time, and met the up train at Valley Falls.

The collision occurred at a sharp curve beyond Central Falls; the down train was behind time, and proceeded at the rate of 40 miles an hour to reach the switch, from which there is a double track to Providence. In one minute the train would have reached the switch. The up train waited the usual time at Pawtucket, and then, having the right to the road, proceeded at a slow rate round the curve.
The spectacle presented was most horrible. The wreck of engines, both of which were totally... Read MORE...

CUMBERLAND, a township of Providence co., in the state of Rhode Island, 8 m. N of Providence. It is to some extent hilly, but is in some parts fertile and well-cultivated. Abbott's Mill, and Peter's rivers, by which it is intersected, afford good water-power. Boat-building and the manufacture of cotton and woolen fabrics form the chief objects of local industry. Pop. 5,225. It contains a village named Cumberland-hill, on the NE side of Blackstone river, and 16 m. NW of Providence.
A Gazetteer of the World: Or, Dictionary of Geographical Knowledge, Publisher A. Fullarton, 1859
1869 - In the towns of Cumberland, Smithfield, Blackstone, and Bellingham, R. I.,
there are seventeen cotton and eight woolen mills, which employ 5,550 hands, run 4,480 looms, and annually use 15,300,000 pounds of cotton. Foundations are now being laid to run 150,000 spindles.
St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
November 20, 1869
1877 - Diamond Hill Quarry Company
The Woonsocket Patriot says that the Diamond Hill Quarry Company of Cumberland, have made a contract with the Poughkeepsie Bridge Company to furnish all the stone for the abutments and piers of that bridge. The contract is a large one, and it will probably require two years to complete it. In order to facilitate the execution of this contract, the Diamond Hill Quarry Company are building a branch railroad from their quarry to the Rhode Island and Massachusetts Railroad.
Newport Daily News
Newport, Rhode Island
May 11, 1877
1878 - Ashton
Simon Whipple, George Olney, Samuel Clarke, and others purchased this privilege, and built a factory in the year 1810, and spun cotton. Mr. Olney purchased his partners' shares at various times. In 1825, he owned the entire privilege. The management of these men, gave the place the name of 'Sinking Fund', which was bestowed upon it by Henry Scott. At the time of which we are speaking, the leading politicians had a great deal to say about creating a 'Sinking Fund', in order to be able to pay the public debt at maturity. Mr. Scott took the word, and pronounced the above company a 'Sinking Fund.' His peculiar method of enunciation added to the beauty of the joke, and the story has been remembered, although its author has long since passed away.

Mr. Olney afterward sold out to the Lonsdale Company. This company operated the mill until 1869, on silicias and sheetings. Since this time, the mill has been used as a store-house. A part of this village is in this town, but... Read MORE...

1878 - Valley Falls
Valley Falls. In 1870, Messrs. Grey & Fish leased rooms from the Valley Falls Company, and commenced the manufacture of weaver's reeds and harness. From Jan. 1, 1873, to Jan. 1, 1877, Mr. Myron Fish conducted the business alone, after which he admitted Mr. John A. Carter as partner. In December, 1875, Mr. Fish erected a building for his business, a two-story wooden structure, 40 x 80 feet, into which he removed his machinery, and where the firm still remain. They employ about twenty hands. The building is situated close to the new iron bridge on Broad Street. The machinery is operated by steam power. The business is now quite flourishing, despite the times.

In 1854, Mr. William J. Hood commenced the manufacture of jewelry, at Pawtucket, Mass. He soon removed to Central Falls, and in 1858 to his present location in this village, at 280 Broad Street. Since he has been here, he has greatly extended his business, not only manufacturing jewelry, but in separate buildings he... Read MORE...

WEST WRENTHAM, Mass., Aug. 1 . - The village of Diamond Hill in Cumberland, just over the line in Rhode Island, is terrorized by a gang of laborers employed on the Pawtucket Water Reservoir building at that place. Citizens do not dare to go out after dark without being armed. Men have been knocked down and robbed, buildings broken into, and other barbarous acts committed. The place is without police protection.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn, New York
August 2, 1885
1890 - FISHING FOR TURTLES. When the Shell-Backed Monster Bites Run Like a Steer.
Terrapin or turtle farms are run in the South and on the Pacific coast, but the business has only been tried in New England as an experiment. As experiments, many of these have been failures, so far as a money making basis is concerned, and many are now kept up for the pleasure of the owner, or by some hotel keeper who takes pride in serving turtle soup unadulterated.

In Cumberland, R.I., there is a small pond that is well stocked with this toothsome food animal. It is a small sheet of water, covering about an acre, and located near Diamond Hill. This small pond is fairly alive with the hard-shelled monsters, and many an hour's sport is found upon the banks. The pond is surrounded by a meadow, and an early visit, while the dew is on the grass, shows innumerable small paths where the turtles have been walking for exercise and in search of food during the night.

While there is a great amount of pleasure in eating turtle soup, there is an equal amount in catching the "critter."... Read MORE...

1895 - Cumberland
Cumberland, a township of Providence co, R.I., the northeasternmost township in the state. It contains and many interesting minerals, Pop. 8090.
Lippincott's Gazetteer of the World: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World Containing Notices of Over One Hundred and Twenty-five Thousand Places ... Joseph Thomas January 1, 1895 J.B. Lippincott
1899 - SERVANT GIRL VANISHES. Apparently Wore Nothing but a Nightrobe and a Picture Hat.
(Special to the World.)
PROVIDENCE, R.I., Nov. 5. - Cumberland Hill has a mystery which the town officers and others are trying to unravel. Walter Grant, who has a fine home at Diamond Hill, went to Boston Thursday, and at an intelligence office hired a domestic, who gave her name as Mary Gilhude.

About 9 o'clock at night the girl retired to a room in the attic. A short time afterward the family heard noises which sounded as though some one had tumbled out of bed. Soon all was quiet, but in the morning no girl appeared to the kitchen, and a search of the room showed that nearly all her clothing was there, and that was all. She must have departed with nothing but a night robe and her picture hat.

Grant says it must be a case of somnambulism.
The World
New York, New York
November 6, 1899
1900 - TRAPPISTS ARE TO MOVE. Monastery in Nova Scotia to Be Removed to Cumberland in Rhode Island.
St. John, N. B., April 28. - The trappist monastery at Tracadie, N. S., is soon to be removed to a far near Cumberland, R. I., and the farm at Tracadie abandoned. It was established in 1814. It was founded by members after the house in France was broken up by the Emperor, Napoleon. There are twenty-five monks at Tracadie. The discipline is rigorous. Bread and water constitutes their diet, eleven hours a day are spent in prayer, and the members are prohibited from speaking to one another.
Chicago Daily Tribune
Chicago, Illinois
April 29, 1900
Man Strikes Match in Gas-Filled Room of Tenement House; Family Dies

(By Tribune's Special Leased Wire)
CUMBERLAND, R.I., Jan. 28 - Fifteen persons met death in a terrific gas explosion that early to-day demolished a tenement house owned by the Manville Mills. An entire family - mother, father and 11 children - was wiped out by the blast. A boarder died with them. Michael Conway, in whose home the explosion occurred, died in the ruins.

The explosion is said to have occurred when Michael Conway, one of the tenants, lit a match to look at his watch. His room had filled with gas during the night. There was a terrific blast that tore the building asunder. Conway and 12 other occupants of the tenement died almost instantly. The bodies of several victims were badly mangled.
The Winnipeg Tribune
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
January 28, 1924
1928 - Nine Men's Misery monument in Cumberland was erected in memory of the colonists killed in Pierce's Fight during King Phillips War in 1676.
The monument was erected in 1928, by monks living in a nearby monastery.
bucklinsociety.net/ bucklin-family-history/ william-bucklin/ nine-mens-misery/
1934 - Communist Plot Rumored To Dynamite Water Supply
CUMBERLAND, R.I., Sept. 14. - (UP) - Unconfirmed rumors of a communist plot to dynamite Pawtucket's water supply spread today and police guards were assigned to the reservoir at Diamond Hill in this town.

Neither state nor local police would admit having received tips indicating such a plot, however.
The Evening Standard
Uniontown, Pennsylvania
September 14, 1934
1949 - Testimony of Water Shortage in New England
...The old stone walls of farmlands flooded 62 years ago are visible in the top picture [illegible] of the Diamond Hill reservoir, Cumberland R.I., which also serves to show a typical example of the acute water shortage throughout the New England area...
Fitchburg Sentinel
Fitchburg, Massachusetts
November 15, 1949
1950 - Monastery in Rhode Island Is Destroyed
Cumberland Hill, R. I. (UP) - Fire early today destroyed the hilltop Cistercian monastery of Our Lady of the Valley, built by the patient hands of Trappist monks.

The blaze apparently broke out in the infirmary of the massive granite structure, driving 110 monks and 20 guests from the four buildings which will cost $250,000 to replace.

Monks Turn Firemen
Firemen from eight surrounding communities and the bearded and brown-robed monks themselves fought the fire that raged out of control for nearly two hours late last night before it was extinguished.

Four Trappists who were in the infirmary were evacuated before the flames roared through all but the most recently constructed buildings of the 50-year-old cloistered colony.

Only buildings saved were the notiviate and the farm houses which contained the basis for the monks' livelihood. Firefighters were hampered by lack of water pressure and traffic jams that resulted when curious townsfolk drove to the scene.

The monks,...

1955 - Industrial Blaze Ends 2,000 Jobs in Rhode Island
CUMBERLAND, R.I., Sept. 13 - (INS) - Two thousand persons were left jobless today by a $5 million fire which destroyed five buildings of the Manville Mills on the banks of the Blackstone River.

Firefighter James Bannon of Pawtucket was hospitalized for a fractured leg suffered when he fell while battling the flames. A score of firemen were overcome by smoke but were treated at the scene and returned to fight the blaze.

The fire raged out of control for five hours despite the efforts of the men and equipment from the Northern Rhode Island-Southern Massachusetts area.

Chief Samuel Engell said the blaze began in debris left in a pile after the mill property had been cleaned up following the floods.

The mills had been back in operation only a few days following the cleanup operation.

Two of the huge brick buildings housed the operations of the Royal Electric Co. Another was used as a storage warehouse by the Owens-Corning Fibreglass Corp., while the other were occupied by... Read MORE...

1967 - It Was Good Ski Season For New England Resorts
...Rhode Island ski resorts survived abnormal warm weather in January to record a good season, with one exception. The January snow lack was balanced by good falls in other months plus many cold nights for the making of machine snow.

Three of the four resort owners in Rhode Island listed 30 percent more days of skiing than in the previous season. The exception was the state reservation at Diamond Hill which lost money between a boost in lift fees and a fire which destroyed the base lodge and ski rental shop.

At Ski Valley in Cumberland, R.I., Fred T. Egan called the season "the best we have had in seven years." Pinetop in Escoheag and Yawgon Valley in Slocum marked up a "breakeven" season.
The North Adams Transcript
North Adams, Massachusetts
April 17, 1967
1976 - Blast Destroys Aerosol Plant
CUMBERLAND, R.I. (AP) - "When I got to the window, there was no wall left. It just blew me right through," said Norman Brule.

Brule was one of at least 27 persons working in the Peterson-Puritan Aerosol spray plant when an explosion ripped through the building Saturday, tossing chunks of cement 20 feet from the one-story building.

Twenty workers were injured, seven critically, authorities said.

Much of the interior of the building was demolished and two outside walls were knocked flat. Twelve persons were initially trapped under debris but had been evacuated by within 90 minutes of the blast.

Idaho State Journal
Pocatello, Idaho
January 18, 1976
1976 - Century-old twins
CUMBERLAND, R.I. (AP) - Emmanuel and Samuel Lussier's relatives are planning a centennial celebration of their own next year when the twin brothers reach a landmark birthday.

Emmanuel and Samuel were born Aug. 11, 1877. They are believed to be the oldest male twins in New England.
The Portsmouth Herald
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
November 11, 1976

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2023 - Here's a list of places to go and things to do in Cumberland:
Diamond Hill State Park:

Enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking, and bird watching in this scenic state park.

Monastery Park:

Explore the peaceful grounds of the Monastery and enjoy a tranquil walk through nature.

Blackstone River Bikeway:

Take a bike ride or a leisurely stroll along this scenic path that follows the Blackstone River.

Phantom Farms:

Visit this local farm for fresh produce, baked goods, and seasonal activities like apple picking.

Valley Falls Heritage Park:

Discover this park with walking trails, fishing spots, and beautiful views of the Valley Falls Pond.

Cumberland Public Library:

Spend some quiet time at the local library, which often hosts community events and activities.

Historic Arnold Mills Village:

Walk through this charming historic village and explore its picturesque New England architecture.

Davies Symphony Hall:

Check out performances and events at Davies Symphony Hall for a dose of cultural... Read MORE...

Discover MY Roots: Cumberland Ancestry

Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

We currently have information about 471 ancestors who were born or died in Cumberland.

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Ancestors Who Were Married in Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA

We currently have information about ancestors who were married in Cumberland.

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Genealogy Resources for Cumberland

Our Cumberland Gift Ideas

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Updated: 10/8/2023 10:21:53 AM